Some New Berlin aldermen seem to make a habit of ignoring expert’s opinions and advice.
Last Tuesday, Aldermen Ken Harenda, Dave Ament, Ted Wysocki, Ron Seidl and John Hopkins chose to disregard the recommendation of City engineers/staff for a 4-lane Calhoun Road reconstruction plan. The recommendation had been based on such important factors as safety, traffic, storm water improvements, and best long-term solution. The aldermen approved a basic 2-lane Calhoun Road option instead. See my previous blog entry.
A few years ago, the City of New Berlin could have avoided a costly lawsuit if New Berlin officials, including Wysocki, Ament and Harenda had heeded the advice of the City Attorney when he cited federal RLUIPA law and advised against rejecting a Greek Church’s rezoning request.
Re: monetary concerns
Calhoun Road replacement is a multi-million dollar capital improvement project. It certainly won’t be paid off with money from this year’s or next year’s budget. Like new school construction and major school renovations, Calhoun Road reconstruction will be funded through borrowing/bond sales and debt service (interest) over a long period, such as 20 years. Consider it an investment of our tax dollars.
Keep in mind that New Berlin is growing. The population is increasing. It would be foolish not to expect more traffic on our roads in 5, 10, 15, 20 years. So, why go against the advice of experts and build the kind of minimalist road that will be obsolete before we are even finished paying for it?
Shouldn’t our local elected representatives be forward-thinking and consider public safety a top priority? The aldermen should not have approved the basic $4.88 million 2-lane Calhoun Rd plan. A better alternative would have been the $6 million 2-lane Calhoun Road compromise plan that allows for expansion and includes off-road side paths, which are safer for pedestrians and bicyclists than traveling on the road shoulder.
A north-south thoroughfare, which also services the industrial park, Calhoun Road already has a lot of car and truck traffic.
$6 million is not chicken feed. But to put costs in perspective:
The cost of replacing Calhoun Road is a fraction of what the District of New Berlin has been paying for school building and renovation projects----
• Elmwood Elementary ($9 million)
• Reagan Elementary ($18 million)
• New Berlin West renovation--$35 million and they still aren’t done there. West needs to replace its treatment plant or hook up to City sewer. Both options are expensive.
• Meanwhile, New Berlin Eisenhower needs work. Wasn’t the Superintendent quoted in the paper stating Eisenhower needs $44 million in upgrades?
Frankly, I’d rather have my tax dollars spent on safe, efficient travel within our city than on such non-essentials as Reagan Elementary School’s wooden ceiling and fancy mosaic floor tile, West’s extravagant field house, cavernous school auditorium, and high-ceiling idea center (library and meeting room) with its poor acoustics, or the school district’s Expect Excellence public relations campaign.